Starring: Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Bell
Directed By: Ben Falcone
Synopsis: A business mogul, after going to jail, must reinvent herself by working with her former assistant and her assistant’s daughter to build a brownie empire.
Final Grade: C-
Recommended For Those Who Like: Identity Thief, Tammy
Hit the jump for the full review
Positives: Melissa McCarthy is a wonderfully gifted comic, and about 90% of her jokes in The Boss land entirely as intended (more on that later). Her command of delivery is very strong throughout the film delivering foul-mouthed lines and reactions that typically illicit at least a chuckle if not full-on laughter. Her portrayal of a business mogul could have come across as more silly or out-of-touch with reality, and while those elements are there, the wise choice as presenting McCarthy character as shrewd and confident works in the movie’s favor.
Kristin Bell, regulated to the “straight” person of The Boss, also does well with what she has to work with. For the most part, she serves to react and respond to McCarthy’s ridiculous ideas or outbursts, often with a sarcastic remark, and it works. It’s unfortunate that Bell, as talented as she is, doesn’t have a bit more to do, but she clearly knows her role and gets a lot out of it, all things considered.
Negatives: While The Boss has two strong leads with great comedic chemistry, one gets the sense that writer/director Ben Falcone didn’t quite trust that McCarthy and Bell could carry the entire film and often relies on other tropes which lessen the comedic experience. For example, The Boss has a few running gags with physical humor like McCarthy falling down a flight of stairs, or a sofa bed that launches her into a wall. These moments feel forced as a the result of possible panic—as if a joke timer went off and Falcone felt it was mandatory to throw in something “funny.”
A similar issues exists with The Boss’ side characters, who are silly to the point of distracting. Directors of comedic films need to learn a core rule—it’s okay to have one character who is a little strange and off, as so long as everyone else around them recognizes and verbalizes it. When eccentric characters either a) outnumber the “normal” characters or b) have their weird behavior brushed aside or accepted by the main characters, the film, and thus the comedy, loses its ability to make people laugh, because the rules of expectancy have been destroyed. If in this universe, characters don’t think it’s weird that Peter Dinklage says creepy things and brandishes Samurai weapons, then the audience won’t be shocked when other crazy things occur.
Overall: The Boss delivers with solid comedy from McCarthy and Bell, but is held back by the director’s ability to exercise restraint and understand the difference between natural situational humor and forced absurdity.
Final Grade: C-
Trivia: Vivian Falcone (McCarthy and Ben Falcone’s daughter) plays10-year-old Michelle